The country's top chefs are confined to their home kitchens. Kim Knight asks what's for dinner. This week, Des Harris from The Hunting Lodge Winery and Restaurant.
"I didn't have a whole lot of time to actually organise myself for this quarantine because work was just so full on. I actually think that all the people who went out to panic buy were really smart in retrospect. When you're confined to shopping at one supermarket . . . I miss proper shopping. Produce shopping.
"I went to the supermarket to buy wraps. It was like Soviet Russia. Like, the whole bread aisle - nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I'm just cracking up laughing. I think chefs have warped senses of humour. I'm really thankful that I've got the ability to steam a kūmara and mash it up and mix it with some flour and make a flatbread, and I've got a wrap super, super quickly. I guess we can fall back on our ability and technique to make it easy at home. I'll make hummus, soak the chickpeas, and also from that make the falafel.
"I'm doing the cooking. My wife is a clinical educator at Hospice. Obviously it's really complicated the service that they are delivering, with no contact. I don't want to burden her. I have been a little bit mean though. Once I got through the first week of just being exhausted, I went 'right, I'm going to reskill myself', so I made some puff pastry. I haven't done that for years. I mean years and years and years, because you have people in your brigades who know how to do that and you just delegate. It was awesome.
"And then I thought, well I've never made a [layered, cream-filled] mille feuille before, so I'll make that. And my wife's vegan, so you know she might have strayed a little bit ... and I made a Basque cheesecake which I've also never made before. Everyone needs to make one, because they are just sick. There's no crumb . . . there's heaps of cream cheese and it's whipped up with a little bit of flour and eggs . . . it deeply caramelises around the edges and on the top and that's your texture and your contrast and it is just divine.
"I'm always looking for super simple things like that which are just really, really delicious. I spent all those years making food that was far too complicated and had far too many steps and was just f***ing with food, basically. We all go through stages in our evolution - yeah, you have to do that, you have to satisfy your ego to some degree.
"Anyway, so I made two desserts that my wife failed on as a vegan, so no more. What's for tonight? I'll just look in my fridge. Last night I made the kids spaghetti bolognese and my daughter saw something on TikTok where some kids were putting it into tacos, so she had that and I tried one and it was just heinous. Oh, I made a green curry. So I think we'll have, mixed with some noodles and I'll throw a lot of veges on top.
"I'm at home in Birkenhead with my wife Jo, son Max (16) and daughter Bella (13). It's really hard to be in the present when you've got all these job concerns and business concerns . . . but, as a chef, to be able to spend time at home with your family is so important. Because we don't spend enough time at home. But when I do, we've always, as a family, eaten together at the table. My wife and I both grew up that way."